Christo causes a stir with 20m high floating Serpentine sculpture
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Christo causes a stir with 20m high floating Serpentine sculpture

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The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting

Environmental artist Christo has completed his latest mammoth temporary structure: a 20m stack of barrels floating in Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake.

The London Mastaba, Christo’s first outdoor public work in the UK, is formed of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform. Together they rise up to create a flat-roofed shape with sloping sides that first originated thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia.

Construction began in April by JK Basel, Deep Dive Systems, and Coventry Scaffolding as well as a team of engineers from Schlaich Bergermann Partner.

The sculpture will be exhibited in the lake until 23 September 2018. An exhibition on the work of Christo, and his late wife and artistic partner Jeanne-Claude, will be held in the adjacent Serpentine Galleries until 9 September.

“For three months, The London Mastaba will be a part of Hyde Park's environment in the centre of London," said Christo. “The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting.”

Both The London Mastaba and exhibition are free to the public – no tickets or reservations are required.

The London Mastaba
How was it made?

The London Mastaba consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform, 20m (65.5ft) high x 30m (90ft) wide (at the 60° slanted walls) x 40m (130ft) long. Standard 55 gallon barrels, 59 x 88 cm (2 ft x 3 ft), were fabricated and painted for the sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, are red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, are blue, mauve and a different hue of red. The sculpture’s floating platform is made of interlocking high-density polyethylene.

Justine Simons, London’s deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, said: “I’m delighted that this major new work by Christo has a home in the capital this summer. I encourage Londoners and visitors to come down and enjoy world-class art for free in the gorgeous surroundings of Hyde Park. It shows once again that London is open to people, ideas and creativity.”

Visitors to the Mastaba can also visit the Serpentine Pavilion, which opened last week. Mexican architect Frida Escobedo's courtyard-based design harnesses a “subtle interplay of light, water and geometry” and is inspired in part by the domestic architecture of Mexico, the Prime Meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and British materials and history.

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Environmental artist Christo has completed his latest mammoth temporary structure: a 20m stack of barrels floating in Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake.
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